The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) will launch crypto trading services for its 6.5 million CommBank app users.
The CBA will become the first bank in Australia to support cryptocurrency, and Blockchain Australia says it is inevitable that the other ‘big four’ banks, including National Australia Bank (NAB), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) and Westpac, will soon follow suit.
According to a Nov. 3 statement, the CBA has partnered with the Gemini crypto exchange and blockchain analysis organization Chainalysis to launch new crypto services. The bank will launch a pilot program for a limited number of customers in the coming weeks before rolling out the full service in 2022.
Currently, ten crypto assets will be supported in its banking app, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and Litecoin (LTC).
The CEO of Blockchain Australia, Steve Vallas, told Cointelegraph that this move is “extraordinarily important” since the big four banks in Australia “underpin our national and international reputation as a financial services destination.”
“The confidence that this gives local participants in the digital asset sector will be dwarfed by the message that this sends around the world that Australia should be a destination for cryptocurrency and digital asset adoption.”
According to Vallas, the rapid growth and adoption of crypto have “shifted the risk of waiting and seeing” to the risk of “inaction” and being left behind. As Vallas believes, it is only a matter of time before other major Australian banks launch their own crypto services.
“It is inevitable that the other banks will follow suit. The regulatory landscape is clearening up, with issues such as licensing being addressed head on by both industry and government. That impediments to action and participation are being removed,” he explained.
As Caroline Bowler, the CEO of local crypto exchange BTC Markets, echoed Vallas’ sentiments, she added that “with regulation on the way and the largest bank in the country allowing it, the floodgates have been opened for more interest from traditional finance.”.
As CBA’s move is both exciting and inevitable, it is like Australia has suddenly cemented its position at the top of the crypto game. We have been perceived as playing catch up for years, but now we’re moving into a leadership position worldwide with our largest bank.”
Dave Abner, Global Head of Business Development at Gemini, said that his firm was “proud” to be launching world-class crypto services with CBA.
In Australia and around the world, the exponential growth of digital assets paired with Gemini’s institutional-grade security and proactive regulatory approach positions this partnership to set a better standard for banks and financial platforms.
Everyone not pleased with CBA’s partnership, however, Adrian Przelozny, the CEO of the Australian crypto exchange Independent Reserve, expressed his dismay over the bank partnering with an overseas firm.
“It’s disappointing that CBA chose an overseas player and did not engage with any local competitors. We will be contacting the other Australian banks now,” Przelozny said.
Cointelegraph reported Oct. 15 that Allan Flynn, a Canberra-based Bitcoin trader, settled his first complaint in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal against ANZ for de-banking him in 2018 and 2019.
In spite of denying any liability, ANZ offered him a chance to reapply for a bank account, a sign that the bank is more open to crypto than it was two to three years ago. Flynn is also pursuing a similar case against Westpac.
According to Flynn, the crypto landscape in Australia is rapidly changing as a result of today’s news:
“Some events have suddenly happened in the Australian Bitcoin space; you have the Senate inquiry, ANZ admitting there is a genuine human rights question in my complaint, AUSTRAC’s extraordinary statement on de-banking, and now CBA’s digital currency plans.
“I am just here arguing for my lawful human rights,” he added in his statement.